Belfast Telegraph

PSNI's golden strike

By Jonathan Bradley

With 67 different countries represented at the World Police and Fire Games there has been an undoubted international feel to proceedings.

However it was a local hockey derby that was garnering the most attention at Stormont yesterday.

After both the PSNI and Northern Ireland Fire Service won their opening two games in the round-robin competition, the match-up between the pair took on the significance of a de facto final with the police eventually running out 6-2 winners.

PSNI team captain Craig McDowell was thrilled with his team's gold medal-winning performance and after the victory commented: "It's been a long year both in a working sense and in a sporting sense so it's great to round it out like this.

"It was a great final with the Fire Service playing their part as well, they are good side this year and you can tell they have players who have played hockey before.

"It took a big effort by our guys and we were the better side on the day but the fact that we play as a team every week was probably the difference.

"We won the league this year and the domestic cup but to win this here in Belfast is something that just can't be beaten."

The PSNI were on top from the outset but were met by a resolute defence from the Fire Service who managed to keep the scores level for the first half an hour of the game.

The pressure eventually told however and the men in green took the lead with 15 minutes remaining before half-time.

They did not have to wait nearly as long to find the net again and two further quick-fire strikes produced a 3-0 lead at the break.

After the restart, the game was a more even contest with Ian Emerson and Chris Jackson responding for the Fire Service but in the end they could not muster sufficient chances to mount a serious comeback and three more goals from the PSNI rounded off the scoring.

With both the sunshine and the adjacent family fun day contributing to a large crowd of spectators, there was a great atmosphere at Stormont and it was the spirit of the occasion rather than the nature of the win that most pleased McDowell.

Now a veteran of four World Police and Fire Games, he reflected: "There's a great crowd here and they've seen a top competition over the three days.

"For the boys from Scotland to put up the money to come and the Australians to travel 11,000 miles to be here is incredible.

"I've been to these games in Adelaide, Vancouver and New York and this has been the best one yet, it's just been great."

His opposing captain, Tommie Monahan was in complete agreement with McDowell.

He stated: "From our point of view these games have been a thorough success right through the service and it's great to have guys coming from all over the country to play together.

"When you see the crowd here in Belfast, it's the same size as the big competitions and it's all been really good for morale.

"It was a fantastic game when you consider we didn't have a hockey club until January.

"Some of our experienced guys and both our keepers really performed well during the three days," Monahan stated.

Meanwhile, the PSNI ladies fell just short in their attempt to emulate their male counterpart's success, gaining silver medals after Australia claimed top spot.

Elsewhere, there was plenty of action on the day dubbed by the event organisers as 'Super Sunday'.

Newry fire fighter Glyn O'Brien followed up his success at the Vancouver games with a gold medal in the Downhill Mountain Biking at Kilbroney Park.

While the P.S.N.I also clinched victory in the SWAT and the Fire Service triumphed 2-1 in their 11-a-side football game with Gardanne Fire who hail from France.

Belfast Telegraph

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